Indonesia Mounts Security Cordon Ahead of Bashir Verdict

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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Around 3,000 Indonesian security forces are on guard around a Jakarta courthouse where judges are about to deliver their verdict in the terrorism trial of a radical Islamist preacher.

Several hundred supporters of Abu Bakar Bashir packed the courtroom and are watching outside on television monitors, awaiting what many expect will be a guilty verdict. Bashir himself said as he was brought to the courtroom earlier Thursday that the trial shows Indonesian authorities have made an enemy of Islam.

Bashir also repeated his claim that the charges against him were fabricated by the United States and Australia to silence his preaching.

Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Bashir, who is accused of helping to fund and organize a terrorist training camp discovered last year in remote Aceh province. Documents found at the camp indicate the group was plotting to assassinate President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and attack Western targets in the capital.

The cleric denies that he financed terrorist activity, but his fiery preaching has long inspired the nation's most radical Islamists. He is considered the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for terrorist attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Bashir spent more than two years in prison on charges related to the Bali attacks before his conviction was overturned.